The goaltending situation for the Edmonton Oilers is a glaring issue. The Oilers know consistent goaltending will be the key for them having a deep run this postseason. But where is this fix going to come from?
Edmonton Oilers Goaltending in Need of Upgrading
Goaltending is arguably the most valuable position of all skaters on the ice. The saying “defence wins championships” is anchored by the crease. A hot goalie in the playoffs can truly be the difference between a deep run towards the Stanley Cup or a bow out of the first round.
But goaltenders are streaky. Their unpredictable nature of running hot and cold drives general managers and fan bases nuts. Therefore, this is one of the hardest positions in hockey to actually get right.
Edmonton Oiler fans know all about inconsistent goaltending. And in their season right now, this is one of the glaring issues about their roster.
Current Mix of Goalies Not Getting it Done
Now we aren’t here to dog on any one of the Oilers goalies. In fact, the abuse Mikko Koskinen takes on an almost nightly basis is highly unwarranted. Koskinen, since signing his extension, was under the impression he would be a backup goalie. That was his role.
And that role was right in his wheelhouse. But injuries to Mike Smith have forced Mikko to play outside of his comfort zone. Koskinen is a formidable backup. And his numbers show that when he gets the start every three to four games, he is very solid. But the workload of a starter has proven to be beyond what he’s capable of, and unfortunately, the stats show.
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Mike Smith’s health. And the Oilers are currently relying on an underdeveloped prospect in Stuart Skinner to try and ease the workload for Koskinen. So at this point in their situation, it is obvious the Oilers would benefit from finding a more stable, proven option for their crease.
The criteria for choosing these goaltending options for the Edmonton Oilers came down to four things.
- How realistic of a fit this could be due to cap limitations. You won’t see Carey Price or Marc-Andre Fleury listed here.
- How available these goalies could be at the trade deadline because of their RFA or UFA status.
- Whether these goalies are truly an immediate upgrade to the starter position.
- Are there any rumours at play?
Now, none of these scenarios works unless the other teams want to play ball, obviously, but it’s fun to look at some potential possibilities.
Three Realistic Goaltending Options for the Edmonton Oilers
Columbus Blue Jackets
Cap Hit: 2.8 million
Korpisalo is at the top of this list as Columbus has made it clear that it’s the Elvis Merzlikins show in Columbus now. The Blue Jackets are taking calls on their backup netminder and you can be sure Ken Holland has already touched base to see what a package would have to look like.
Korpisalo is the most seasoned goalie on this list and therefore might be the easiest to gauge expectations. Korpisalo is two years removed from a season where he went 19-12-5 with a 2.60 goals-against average (GAA) and .911 save percentage (SV%). That was also the season where he stood on his head against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs and pulled off the incredible first-round upset.
His numbers this season are troublesome though, as he has a miserable 3.86 GAA and .886 SV%. Those numbers will not get you excited. His expected goals-against (xGA) at even-strength is 34.4 with his actual goals against sits at 48. His .844 scoring-chance save percentage (sc SV%) also sits well below the top of the league.
He’s not getting you the big saves when you need them.
These numbers, however, could be the result of the porous defence in Columbus. His counterpart, Merzlikens, who has the confidence of the Blue Jacket organization, only has a 3.18 GAA and .911 SV%.
His season stats are not an upgrade from anyone on the Oilers roster, but he’s shown moments of brilliance in the past. The ability to get Korpisalo will also be in the Oilers favour. With two straight “down” seasons by Korpisalo, and being a UFA next season, he will most likely come cheap at the trade deadline.
This move gets a six out of ten in terms of likeliness Holland goes after Korpisalo.
St. Louis Blues
Cap Hit: 750k
If there was ever a goalie to gamble on during their hot streak, it’s Husso. His 1.90 GAA and .941 SV% are tops of the league. And his xGA of 16.2 is sixth in the league and is higher than those of Jacob Markstrom, Jack Campbell, and Tristan Jarry.
Now, this is a tough one to gauge, as every goalie who has had starts for the Blues this season has performed well. So this could be the result of solid team-play in front of him. Last year Ville Husso’s stats were a far cry from what we are seeing this season. In 17 starts he amassed a 3.21 GAA and .893 SV%
Husso becomes a UFA at the end of the season and, if his stellar performance continues, will warrant a big raise. With six million dollars per year allotted to Jordan Binnington for the next five years, St. Louis may not be able to afford him.
General manager Doug Armstrong drafted Husso in the fourth round back in 2014. And after eight years of development, he may be reluctant to move on from Husso. Especially with Binnington’s inconsistent play.
But Charlie Lindgren, who sits in the minors for the Blues, was a formidable backup when called upon for his five starts. He is also a UFA at the end of the season but will come cheaper than Husso. His play could ease the mind of Armstrong for his new backup as he might have his hands tied with moving away from the Binnington contract.
Husso’s play is better than anyone on the Oilers roster. He would also be the furthest developed goalie in their system as well. Edmonton doesn’t have the luxury of developing goalies while having Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl under contract. Their time to win is now. This would be worth the gamble for the Oilers to overpay to acquire the young Husso’s services.
With Elliot Friedman recently mentioning the Oilers interest in Husso, the likelihood of this trade gets a seven out of ten. It checks off all the boxes for price, fit, and ability to pull off a deal.
New York Rangers
Cap Hit: 2.425 mill
The New York Rangers backup is struggling to find his groove this season. His 2.99 GAA and .898 SV% are well off the pace of his teammate Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin is currently having a Vezina calibre season with a 2.10 GAA and .937 SV%.
Georgiev did have a respectable 2.70 GAA and .905 SV% the year prior though.
The Rangers have a slew of RFA’s to sign over the next two years and will be pressed up against the cap. With prospect goalie Dylan Garand coming up in the ranks, it may be time for New York to move on from the young Bulgarian.
But on the flip-side of that, the Rangers are poised to make a run in the playoffs this spring And if Georgiev is gone, they’d have to turn to veteran Keith Kinkaid as a replacement. Not the most solid option. With that said, the Rangers may be willing to hold onto Georgiev and risk losing him to another team for a lesser return in the offseason.
Georgiev would almost certainly be a rental player for Edmonton. Unless he put out an incredible showing for the Blue and Orange, the Oilers would most likely use the time in the offseason to orchestrate a bigger splash for their crease.
Alexandar Georgiev is an upgrade to the crease but he is still very much a gamble. But with limited options available to Holland, this move could be one of the few he can pursue.
The price works and there is a fit for the Oilers. This move gets a five out of ten for how likely it could happen.
The NHL Trade Deadline is March 21, so the rumour mill will be heating up here these coming weeks.
Whether we see any of these goaltenders in an Oilers jersey this season remains to be seen. But these three are all viable, realistic options that would be an upgrade, in varying degrees, to their crease.
Holland has his work cut out for him as he looks to get his team going on a deep postseason run. Let’s see what the longtime general manager has up his sleeve for his Oilers.
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